To celebrate the end of the year, the staff of Sequential Planet will be listing their favorite things from 2019! Below are some of Pashtrik’s favorite picks of the year.
Series of the Year – Immortal Hulk
Immortal Hulk is GOAT.
End of discussion.
Al Ewing and Joe Bennett have been killing it from the first issue, all the way to the latest. They managed to set up a new and huge story arc about the Hulk acquiring the Universe’s deadliest artefact – the Cosmic Purple Pants – while still rooting the book in some of the biggest problems of humanity. Nothing so far has made me scared of Global Warming as the Minotaur himself, Dario Agger.
I mean, no disrespect to Greta Thunberg, but the Hulk is the real Green Warrior. Literally. Ha-ha. Bad Joke. Let’s move on.
Honorable mentions: Monstress, Paper Girls, House of X/Powers of X
Best Writer – Donny Cates
Donny Cates has been working like a well-oiled machine this year. From the first arc of the latest Guardians of the Galaxy series and the Venom stuff, all the way to Silver Surfer: Black and Redneck – he’s been killing it. Sure, there were some weaker parts, like the second arc of his Guardians run. Absolute Carnage also faltered a bit by the end, no doubt. But all in all? Donny is a helluva writer and a huge asset for Marvel. Looking forward to his output in 2020!
Honorable mentions: Jeff Lemire (did you doubt for even a second?), Marjorie Liu
Best Artist – Sana Takeda
There were a bunch of great artists this year. Jorge Fornes killed it with every appearance on Batman and Daredevil. Tradd Moore went all out on Silver Surfer: Black. German Garcia’s work on Immortal Hulk #25 pulled strongly (and wonderfully) from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. And on and on. It was an extremely strong year, art-wise.
Yet, none of those got me excited as much as Sana Takeda’s work on Monstress. Marjorie Liu might be the architect of the strange world of Monstress, but it’s Sana Takeda who gives us a peek into that glorious post-industrial-Asia inspired setting. Her artwork has a manga-like sensibility to it, resulting in one of the more unique books in comic book stores.
Honorable mentions: Jorge Fornes, Tradd Moore, Russell Dauterman
Best Colourist – Jordie Bellaire
Jordie Bellaire is living proof that the colouring can make or break a ( American) comic book. Look no further than her work on Batman, with artist Mikel Janin. Janin’s work has been criticised of being robotic, plastic and somewhat 3D-like. Yet, when Bellaire was brought in to colour some of his work, many were left shocked. Her use of a darker and more contrasting palette of colours elevated Janin’s work so much that you couldn’t be blamed for not realising at first glance that it was truly him.
Honorable Mentions: Matthew Wilson (War of the Realms), Antonio Fabela (Skyward)
Best Issue – The Walking Dead #192
The Walking Dead #193 was a shocker, for sure, serving as the surprise ending of the long-running zombie survival series, aka Image Comics’ flagship title. But the true shocker was the penultimate issue of the series, #192. It confirmed that yes, Rick Grimes was really gone, and Carl (and the rest of the world) had to continue without him. It was a quiet issue, on the verge of meditation, as it followed Carl from discovering his deceased father, to him embarking on a trip back to Alexandria for his funeral. Kirkman had always said that there was a possibility of killing Rick, but no one was able to imagine the series going on without him.
And it really didn’t.
Honorable mentions: Immortal Hulk #25, Monstress #25, Spider-Man: Life Story #6
Best New Series – Daredevil
Some of you might know that I’m not a fan of Charles Soule’s run on Daredevil. It was defined by his decision to take a look at the previous 15 years of character development and say “naah, f**k that, I’m the boss now” and throwing it all out through the window. And okay, fine, this is comics’ we’re talking about – this happens all the time.
Zdarsky didn’t do a soft-reboot when he took over in February – opting to build on top of Soule’s finishing mini – but he did decide to take the character in a different route. Gone is the Hand (for now), gone are edgy street-artist villains and random supposed proteges. Instead, Matt is fighting mobsters, corrupt cops and his own mind. By bringing Daredevil to his (modern) roots, Zdarsky managed to invigorate some much needed new life in the character and make me excited for him once again. Oh, and shifting some additional focus on the Kingpin himself is a welcome change. Everything old is new again.
Honorable mentions: Marauders, Harleen, Lois Lane, Far Sector
Best Mini – Silver Surfer: Black
While I’m still mad that Silver Surfer: Black just ignores Dawn and considers Shala-Whatever as Norrin’s greatest love, there is no denying that it’s an awesome book. Donny Cates tells an awesome, trippy story that is further amplified by Tradd Moore’s out-of-this-world visuals. Seriously, it’s one of the best looking minis in a while and everyone that disagrees is wrong.
The book also (maybe) sets up a new status quo for the character and it’ll be interesting to see where Marvel takes it from here.
A glorious book.
Honorable mentions: War of the Realms, Black Hammer/Justice League, Spider-Man: Life Story
Movie of the Year – Jojo Rabbit
“I’m massively into swastikas, so…”
74 years later and artists still find a way to highlight the awfulness and absurdity of not just World War II, but humanity itself. The movie is full of fantastic jokes and light-hearted, wholesome moments… before it kicks you in the stomach and proceeds to beat the living crap out of you. For the life of me, I can not understand how could anyone see this as anything else than what it really is – an absurd look at an absurd period in human history and an absurd species.
Honorable mentions: Us, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Knives Out
Best Director – Rian Johnson
These words will probably make a lot of people that saw (and really hated) The Last Jedi roll their eyes really, REALLY hard. But Rian Johnson does exactly that with his latest movie, Knives out. He takes many a trope and turns them on their heads, resulting in a highly entertaining whodunnit mystery movie. First, he reveals the exact manner of murder barely 30 minutes in. Then, Ransom orders “another bowl”. After that, he answers the question of “what if I was in a car chase?”, with the I standing for every single human ever.
Oh, and it’s not just gimmicks that make him the best director of the year – the movie has some genuinely awesome and wonderful shots, with some fantastic framing.
Talk about a hot take, right?
Honorable mentions: Jordan Peele, Quentin Tarantino
Best Actor – Joaquin Phoenix
Did anyone doubt this?
Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt were fantastic in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Christian Bale was incredible in Ford v Ferrari and Lupita Nyong’o was unreal in Us. But none of them come close to Joaquin’s portrayal of the most famous member of society.
From Arthur’s ‘laugh’, to his mannerisms, Joaquin nailed it. He made you feel for the character, yet scared of him.
The movie might have its flaws. Joaquin’s portrayal is not one of those.
Honorable mentions: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Lupita Nyong’o